Thursday, July 2, 2015

McBrien on Fridays - Independence or Interdependence?

This Saturday, July 4th, is Independence Day in the United States. It is a day for celebration, to be sure, but all too rarely do those Americans who observe the holiday reflect on its original inspiration. The same, of course, holds true for Memorial Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and even Christmas.

Many countries have their own distinctive celebrations to mark the anniversary of their liberation from foreign rule or autocratic government. There is nothing unique about what occurs in the United States on the Fourth of July. Canada Day, celebrated on July 1st, offers a close, but not exact, parallel.

It is an occasion not only to reflect on the courage and sacrifices of those who made the original "declaration of independence," often at serious risk to their own lives, but also to acknowledge that we can take their inspired idea of independence to extremes.

The spirit of independence can degenerate into what was once commonly referred to as "social Darwinism," which applies the Darwinian principle of the survival of the fittest to groupings within society itself. Social Darwinism is partially captured in the saying, "I'm up, pull up the ladder."

There is still a mentality abroad that identifies the well-being of one's own group with the well-being of the whole. If some groups fall by the wayside, so be it. 

According to social Darwinism, the poor are poor because they are lazy. People of color and other minorities falsely claim discrimination when their lot is really attributable to their own failings. 

What Independence Day should inspire, in whatever country it is observed, are some deeper reflections on the most effective antidote to social Darwinism, namely, the spirit of interdependence, which is an essentially Christian idea (even if not exclusively Christian).

Jesus left us two great commandments: love of God and love of neighbor. The "disciple whom Jesus loved" (John 20:2), John the Apostle and Evangelist, elaborated upon Jesus' teaching in his First Letter, or Epistle.

"Whoever says he [or she] is in the light, yet hates his brother [or sister], is still in the darkness" (1 John 2:9).

"For this is the message you have heard from the beginning: we should love one another...." (3:11).

"If someone who has worldly means sees a brother [or sister] in need and refuses him [or her] compassion, how can the love of God remain in [that person]? Children, let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth" (vv. 17-18).

"Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God....Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love....No one has ever seen God. Yet if we love one another, God remains in us and [God's] love is brought to perfection in us" (4:7,8,12).

And then we come to the classic text, which is rightly quoted so frequently, and which clearly defines what may otherwise seem a complicated theological principle, namely, the principle of sacramentality: "If anyone says, 'I love God,' but hates his brother [or sister], he [or she] is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother [or sister] whom he [or she] has seen cannot love God whom he [or she] has not seen. This is the commandment we have from [Jesus]: whoever loves God must also love his brother [or sister]" (4:20-21).

The principle of sacramentality applies much more broadly than to the grace-bearing rituals commonly known as the seven sacraments. The Church itself is a sacrament, and so is Jesus Christ. They are sacraments insofar as God is present and redemptively at work in them.

The principle is at the heart of Christian faith and practice. Christianity is not only a matter of belief, but also, and more fundamentally, of action. In fact, beliefs that do not issue in action are empty. As St. John put it in his First Letter, it is not a matter of loving "in word or speech but in deed and truth."

Over the past five centuries Catholics have traditionally countered the Reformers's "sola fides" ("faith alone") with an appeal to the Letter of James, with its own classic expression: "Be doers of the word and not hearers only..." (1:22), and its equally classic: "So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead" (2:17), and "a person is justified by works and not by faith alone" (v. 24). Again, "faith without works is dead" (v. 26).

Every Independence Day, therefore, must also be a celebration of the spirit and demands of interdependence. It is what Christian discipleship is all about.

6 / 29 / 2009

Mary Lou Williams Don Byas- It Must Have Been Moonglow

with
Alvin Banks, bass
Gerard Ponchonet, drums

The moon should be beautiful here tonight, as well as, I believe Venus and Jupiter appearing near each other in the North West shortly after sun set.  I hope to be getting to a tiny bit of that weeding I need to get to by the light of the rising moon.

And I can't resist, my absolute favorite waltz

Mary's Waltz




I'm going to be cutting way, way back here for the rest of July, posting videos and audios of music, lectures, etc.  Perhaps the occasional new piece.  I had a serious financial setback and don't think I'll be able to keep this up full time for a while.  I might even have to bleg, as I was recently encouraged to consider. Thank heavens I've still got students.

Of course, I've got a big mouth, so to speak so who knows how long I'll be able to tolerate going silent.

Update:  Opus Z




From This Moment On


Hate Mail - Strike When the Pouter Has Lied

Oh, I don't care if Simels and the Eschatots mock me, that's to be expected by people as immature as they are.  I find it encouraging, at this point.   I'm certain few if any of them bothered to look up the meaning of the word "henotheism" which I used once in a post several weeks ago which Sims has been harping on, ignorantly, ever since.  I'm certain he never looked it up and doubt he knows how to pronounce it.   Really, you have to spoon feed everything to those kiddies, in little bite sized pieces or its a choking hazard.  Which probably accounts for Duncan's sub-tweet length blog posts. They get all pasted up when you use a word they don't know.  To go with Simels' childish chicken theme.

Hold the notification of mocking, wait till he lies, which is guaranteed to come later.

Update:  Apparently the geniuses, in their own estimation, at Duncan's blog are so lazy they won't even click on the link to find out what a word they don't know means.   Apparently senectitude is the new 12.   

That means "old age",  for the pablum and vodka set.  

And Now A Word About Events In My State: Impeach LePage But Also Prevent The Likelihood of Another One As Bad Turning Up

I wonder how the people at Maine Public Broadcasting* are going to deal with the very real possibility that their favorite governor,  Paul LePage has made himself vulnerable not only to being impeached but possibly indicted because he openly blackmailed a private school in Maine when they offered the outgoing Speaker of the Maine legislature,  Mark Eves, a job as head of the school.  He threatened to withhold a half a million dollars in state funds for the school which services many at-risk children which would set off a loss of other funds, possibly as much as two million dollars.  The school, which, I think,  has been unfairly accused of caving to the blackmail, had little choice in retracting the offer,  LePage has, since he took office, withheld funding which has not only been approved by the legislature but also by the voters in referendum.  The man is totally out of control, a bloated little dictator who holds that he is above investigation and the greatest argument in our state's history against allowing anyone to take office with less than 50% +1 of the votes with run-off elections to ensure that.  And, as well, making it far harder for a millionaire spoiler like Eliot Cutler to buy his way onto the ballot.   The "liberalizing" of ballot access, one of the flakier ideas to come out of the heady days of the 60s and 70s when it wasn't considered that those laws would be vulnerable to the kind of manipulation they have been put to, not least of which, by egotistical millionaires.

I would love to see LePage not only impeached - preferably after the elections next year, if, as may happen, control of the Senate will return to Democrats and another of his other targets could replace him - but indicted and convicted and imprisoned for the corruption he has brought to Maine politics.  After the governorship of Jock McKernan, widely considered the worst governor in living memory, the LePage administration has, beyond any doubt, taken that title from him.

But most of all I would like to see the elections laws changed to prevent a 38% governor ever taking office again or for a millionaire or millionaire financed spoiler to put someone as obviously unsuited and unqualified to be governor as Paul LePage in office.  I blame Eliot Cutler and the Maine media for this situation as much as I do Republicans who have never given us a worse governor.   And there are many Republicans, even those I would never, in my life have imagined saying it, who want him impeached if not convicted of blackmail, today.   He is a disgrace, the shame of our state.

*  I'm told that their service to LePage was not forgotten by him in his budget proposals, though I'm so disgusted with things in Augusta that I can't bear to read much about it these days.  I've stopped listening to the uniformly LePage friendly broadcast media.  If I saw Irwin Gratz of MPBN,  I don't think I could keep myself from yelling at him, not to mention the people in the other corporate media.  Maine Public Broadcasting is so compromised it should have its licenses taken away and those given to an entity which won't include anyone employed there or on the present board of it.  Anyone who gives to them thinking they're buying an objective and accurate news service is deluding themselves.

The Fixed Origin of Rights Is The Pole Star of Egalitarian Democracy It Can't Survive Without That Being Held As Absolute

Today is the day that John Adams, in 1776, predicted would be from then on celebrated with fireworks and the such, the glorious 2nd of July, when the presumptuous aristocrats who met as the Continental Congress voted themselves independent of Britain.  You see, even then they were excluding Canada, Quebec, Mexico and the native inhabitants from counting as North America.

But my text this morning is the one I mentioned a few days back, the second sentence of the Declaration of Independence they based their vote of the 2nd on and which they would formalize two days later.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Those words are certainly among the most familiar to Americans out of any of the civic documents of our history, the ones who the later figure who should count as a founder of modern America, Abraham Lincoln explicitly adopted as the basis of his political philosophy, the ones that The Reverend Martin Luther King jr. based the demand for political equality on in the next century.  The reason that both men asserted those words were that the author and the adopters of them in 1776 immediately proved they had no intention of allowing them to govern their conduct in their personal life or, certainly, not of the government they would form after the war.   The author of them,  Jefferson, certainly did his best to hollow them out with his slave holding which became more exacting as he applied his rational analysis of the value of their labor to enrich him, not them, developed.

The other day I pointed out that, against the entire grain of today's intellectual elite, when Jefferson and his fellow heroes of The Enlightenment* sought to explain where their rights to be listed below and which they accused the King and the British Parliament of violating came from, those great minds could think of nothing else than to claim them as a gift of God.

I am certain they rehearsed different arguments of how to turn rights and the moral obligation to respect them into some kind of political geometry in terms of pure reason without recourse to the already intellectually unfashionable divine.   Only they found that couldn't be done and it still can't.  They must be held to be self-evident but can only be self-evident with that origin already held.  Much as I delight in breaking the taboo against dissing those secular gods, I doubt anyone is likely to outstrip them in their ability to do that. There has been no attempted scientific location of the origins of rights and moral obligation to respect rights which hasn't reduced them from an absolute reality into a shifting, appearing and disappearing mirage which no one can rationally demand be respected in any durable manner.

Every atheistic explanation of rights can, with the greatest of ease, be alienated from any individual or member of any identity group by the merest of whim.   I have had the great pleasure of being able to point out to the people who promote those cheap imitations of rights and obligations, that in any society which deemed that atheists had no rights would have, truly and irrefutably demolished any rights that atheists asserted or could ever assert while being faithful to that popular atheist exposition of rights and morals.   In such a society, atheists making claims to rights would, by their own holdings, have made their claims to rights a delusion.   And I have used them as an example only because, these days, it is atheists who make those claims of being able to produce rights without them being an equal endowment of God, if anyone else tries that, their own identity works as perfectly to impeach their attempt in every case.   It especially works when people try to link rights with intelligence** because that argument makes everyone the inferior in rights to everyone who is more intelligent than they are.   Making such a silly argument so vulnerable to that answer doesn't do anything to support the intellectual status of the one making it.

This is no small point in their political geometry, it is stated in the second sentence because it is the basis on which their entire argument for the violations of their rights is made, which, in turn,  they use to argue for their independence from Britain and, especially, the British king.  It was the same holding necessary to argue for the rights of those held in slavery, women, workers, poor people, etc. They had to make rights inalienable and enduring or they would have, as well, been deluded that they possessed such rights and there is no way to do that without asserting that rights and the obligation to respect rights are nothing less than gifts from God.   Rights among people, in society originate in moral obligations.  We, today, have not made any more progress in locating rights and the equally important moral obligations on which the exercise of rights rests in any other place than as an inalienable gift equally bestowed on all people by God.   There is no philosophical explanation of those, no pseudo-scientific attempt to create them with natural selection or an assertion of physical law which isn't vulnerable to exactly the same practices that led those gods of the Enlightenment, the "Founders" to hollow out those words into a dying echo, the vastly corrupt antebellum period, requiring another bloody war and bloody struggle which made the sacrifices of the Revolution seem like a minor thing.  If we ignore that, first moral obligations will be pushed aside, as they already are, with those go the freedom to enjoy rights, the life that those ensure and, eventually, there will be another conflict as the conditions those lead to become unendurable.  I would expect the next one might make the Civil War look like a dress rehearsal, the products of the Enlightenment by way of arms and lack of inhibitions to use them being what those are now.  Look at the results of the Russian and Chinese revolutions for a clue as to what will come.

*  I've been thinking of expanding the series I did in February on the documents proving the religious origins of abolitionism, contrasting those with statements by the heroes of anti-religious propaganda both asserting the natural inferiority of non-whites and the rightness of holding them in slavery or, at least, in an inferior condition to white poeple.  Virtually all of the heroes of the enlightenment said something to that effect,  Voltaire,  Hume, Jefferson, Kant...   In every case I can think of, in that period, the ones who held the equality of people regardless of race were religious.   And that line of thinking goes back to the early Christian period.  It could hardly have avoided it as the mainstream of religious thought held to a single origin of all people instead of the frequently asserted "rationalist" separate origination and scriptures which held in respect converts from Africa and which aspired to bring the Gospel to all people.

**  The question of such rights as self-determination by the profoundly retarded is one of the more troubling of those.  Clearly, as with young children, people who have very little intellectual capacity, still have rights, one of those is the right to be protected from those who would take advantage of their condition but, also, from their own inability to protect themselves from other dangers.  Rights don't exist as disembodied, abstract entities but as aspects of the person in their very being, different rights becoming more relevantly asserted in different conditions.  The right to free speech is certainly not the most important one to someone hiding from someone who is trying to attack or kill them, the right to go where you want to is certainly not the one to assert for a person incapable of avoiding the raging river near them.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

More for Canada Day Norman McLaren: Pen Point Percussion


Update:  Mosaic 


For Canada Day

Margaret Atwood

Through the One-Way Mirror

I read this years ago in The Nation and it always stuck with me, especially today when the Harper government is trying to turn Canada in to an annex of the United States.   Or that's how it seems to me.  I liked Canada a lot more when it was Canada.

It was either this or The Guess Who's American Woman.  I figured most people have heard that, already.  

Scott Joplin - Stoptime Rag - Joshua Rifkin


When Someone Is Determined To Lie About What You Say You Aren't Under Any Obligation To Ignore It

This appeared within the past hour on Duncan Black's Eschaton Blog.   Anyone who reads my post, below, will see that it is a total distortion of what I said and any possible coherent or rational interpretation of it.


Steve Simels, blog malignancy  30 minutes ago

I long ago concluded that
the reason conservatives in the law and the judiciary are so enamored 
of the death penalty is that it is an essential tool of any despotic 
government to be used against any opponents, as a means of terrorizing 
any subjugated groups
So in other words, you're one of those morons who thinks the death penalty is a deterrent?
Here's a clue, numbnuts -- conservatives are enamored of the death penalty because they're sadists. Period.

Obviously, Duncan Black is OK with someone lying like that on his website, the "reality community" his "brain trust".  

Update:  Here's the comment that Simels posted a while back.  


steve simelsJuly 1, 2015 at 11:54 AM
Actually, that's exactly what you said.

You're not terribly bright, Sparkles.

And, I will remind you, this is someone who Duncan Black values as a regular member of his "reality community" his "brain trust".   A man trusted and believed by such as who are also regulars there these days, the ones who didn't leave it in either disgust or a realization that Eschaton is a futile waste of time if not actually counterproductive in making any kind of progress.  The man who has been calling me an anti-Semite there for more than three years, just about every week, several times a week.

Samuel Alito Thuggish Hit Man of the Supreme Court

I long ago concluded that the reason conservatives in the law and the judiciary are so enamored of the death penalty is that it is an essential tool of any despotic government to be used against any opponents, as a means of terrorizing any subjugated groups and as a general means of degrading the meaning of human life, essential in their program of turning people from beings possessing inalienable rights to objects which are subject to disposal.   In that, the proponents of state murder are generalizing the attitudes that allow some people to commit illegal murders as prerogatives of the state and the judicial system, and judges.   It isn't any accident that the very same Supreme Court Justices who voted for the state of Oklahoma in the appalling, morally bankrupt Glossip v. Gross are the same justices who have been attacking democracy and self-government in favor of corporations, this is all part of a general program of destroying both a democratic government and a decent society of the only type which can sustain a democracy.

That it was the coldest blooded of the casually cruel Republicans on the bench, Samuel Alito,  who issued the ruling is not shocking.  He is never slow to do something like that, an intellectual Luca Brasi.  This case is particularly telling of how twisted his mind is, especially in light of his dissent on the United States vs. Stevens case, in which I agreed with him that the filmed torture and killing of animals in porn could be banned, against all eight of the other justices.  It was about the one and only case that I ever agreed with him on anything, though with his holding that human beings can be killed without any regard for torture or suffering leaves me to consider that his goal wasn't animal welfare.

The current ruling, like all of Alitos, tries to destroy past progress towards a more decent government,

Gossip v. Gross is a crushing blow to opponents of the death penalty. The narrow issue in this case is whether a particular drug that Oklahoma wants to use in executions sufficiently dulls inmates pain that the intense suffering caused by the remainder of the state’s lethal drug cocktail does not amount to cruel and unusual punishment. Yet the Court’s 5-4 decision goes well beyond this narrow question. It effectively enlists death row inmates’ attorneys to become agents of their clients’ demise. And it elevates the death penalty to a kind of super-legal status that renders it impervious to many constitutional challenges.

Glossip opens with the eight most frightening words a liberal will ever read: “JUSTICE ALITO delivered the opinion of the Court.” In characteristic fashion, Alito uses his opinion to pry open gaps in the Court’s precedents that lead to extraordinarily conservative outcomes. By the time he is done, some of the most important victories for death penalty opponents in the last several years have been transformed into defeats.

At oral arguments, Alito was openly contemptuous of the work of death penalty opponents — many of whom work for companies that manufacture drugs that various states would like to use in their execution protocols. The reason why Oklahoma was in court seeking the ability to use a painkiller of questionable reliability in its executions is because many drug companies have refused to sell their products to states if those states intend to use them to kill a human being. During arguments in this case, Alito labeled this effort a “guerrilla war against the death penalty.”

As a legal matter, it is not at all clear why the actions of drug companies have any relevance whatsoever to a constitutional challenge to the death penalty. Drug companies are private actors, not government actors, so they are free to sell or not to sell whatever they choose so long as they comply with the law. Alito’s opinion, however, effectively punishes these drug companies for their opposition to the death penalty by holding that, should the companies continue to make their more reliable drug unavailable, then executions will just move forward with less reliable painkillers.

This is so extraordinary, especially given that Alito has been, almost uniformly, a supporter of so called "corporate rights", here, in order that executions are carried out,  he tries to force them into becoming part of the government's killing team, even if they would rather not.  It rewards the LEAST moral of businessmen, it creates a race to the moral bottom when any company which would not aid the effort to kill.

The key paragraph in Alito’s opinion is a declaration that, no matter what happens, there must always be a way to execute inmates:

"Our decisions in this area have been animated in part by the recognition that because it is settled that capital punishment is constitutional, “[i]t necessarily follows that there must be a [constitutional] means of carrying it out.” And because some risk of pain is inherent in any method of execution, we have held that the Constitution does not require the avoidance of all risk of pain. After all, while most humans wish to die a painless death, many do not have that good fortune. Holding that the Eighth Amendment demands the elimination of essentially all risk of pain would effectively outlaw the death penalty altogether."

It's no wonder that Roberts assigned this decision to the cold-blooded Alito.  The other natural choice to issue such a morally depraved ruling, Scalia, couldn't be counted on to not make a joke on the way to delivering as bad if not a worse decision.

I will point out that all of the Justices in this ruling are in the most basic violation of Catholic teachings on the death penalty in this ruling, not to mention in the whole line of death penalty cases they have heard, though I don't suppose any of them would be turned away from communion at the next Red Mass they attend or will run into any bishops pressuring Catholic universities from barring them from speaking.   At least not until the current holders of most of those positions are replaced, one hopes as soon as possible, with men or more integrity and less bald support for Republicans.

Not "Gay Married" Married

With the ruling by the Supreme Court issued last week, let's drop the qualifier of "gay marriage" and just call it marriage.   The qualifier already creates a different category which can't help but absorb and to an extent justify inequality.   If you want to see what that includes, you can do what I've been doing and raise the apparently odd idea that gay people who marry should have a right to expect faithful monogamy in their marriage and see how people can't believe that's a possibility.   That is even believed of marriages of  lesbians, I was surprised to find out because, if anything, lesbians I know who are in a stable relationship are probably more likely to be faithfully monogamous than the straight couples I know.   

I said the other day that if the marriages of gay people aren't held to include faithful monogamy, we are already making it an inferior bond, and marriage is a voluntarily entered into bond, an agreed to restriction in some aspects of choice entered into on a mutual basis or it is a bogus marriage.   If we regard our marriages as not including that, WE will be the ones accepting an inferior status for our marriages and any families that might result from those.  If the marriage doesn't come with bonds to care for each other for better or worse, in sickness and in health on a continual basis until death do us part, it is a mere economic contract without any personal and emotional commitment to each other and no one should expect more from it than financial advantages, which already degrades it and makes it less than those marriages which are true pledges of support.  As I mentioned the other day, the inclusion of sexual fidelity in the promises we have a right to expect of the agreement of marriage is especially relevant to gay men, given the very real possibilities of one spouse becoming infected and passing on AIDS or other STDs rampant in the gay population.  That is, of course, something that straight folk, who are also prone to that possibility, to consider in the degradation of marriages among them.  

The successful marriages I've seen, with benefit of an officiant or not, have been among people who took the promises they made seriously.  They have pledged to constantly work at it through all of the problems that are bound to come up, through the disagreements, the stupid mistakes with money, with selfish behavior, etc.   Some have even endured the realization that one of them could probably have "done better" or that romantic love tends to fade.  Though it is very possible for an immature relationship to come to a more adult appreciation and respect which is probably better than the idiocy of immature infatuation which the movies, TV and stupid novels have led us to think of as the highest point of marriage.  Which accounts for why so many people in those businesses tend to seek out one after another, after another of those relationships and they never grow up but may merely get too old to fool around anymore. 

Worst of all is the cynical immaturity of sex advisers in the media who are among the greatest scoffers against the possibility of gay folk having faithful, mature, adult marriages.   Perhaps that is due to the fact that the people who seek advice from such unlikely sources of good advice tend to be the ones in a relationship with selfish, immature people, quite often that person being the one asking for the advice.   I doubt most people in good relationships give such personal pundits much business or material to make into columnage.   If I were looking to make a good marriage, they're about the last place I'd look for ideas.   

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Koko Taylor - Honkey Tonkey


This is the story of my life these days.

More Electronic Music History Musique Concrète

If you read the history of electronic music, you might see that Pierre Schaeffer's 1948 Études aux chemins de fer (Study for Rail Road Trains) is the first piece of Musique concrète, editing, manipulating and reassembling taped samples of sound into a musical structure.


It's arguable that that line of music began earlier than that, in that case, certainly including the Candian animator, Normal McLaren's animations in which he created a sound track by drawing on the sound recording portion of the film. Here is his Dots from 1940


Synchromy 1971


And, just for fun, the earliest recorded sound, recording sound waves on paper, which had to wait for computers to be heard.



Any America Worth Respecting Was Made By Resistance Against The "Founders" System In Every Century Since The Constitution Was Adopted

Salon magazine, as well as other allegedly liberal voices among the webloids, must put up at least ten anti-Christian, anti-religious articles to any one which takes a less hostile view of religion.  The one they have up right now by Steven K. Greene,  "Inventing a Christian America: The Myth of the Religious Founding" isn't as bad as most, it actually makes some valid points even as it misrepresents what some of those men who are to be taken as having a quasi-divine authority, "the founders", said.   I've been over, and over and over the documentary record left by such of them as Jefferson and Madison and Adams and am tired of making those points.  As it is, I think we really need to get over those 18th century aristocrats who declared independence and set up a constitutional system but it is a complete and absolute lie to say they are the ones who founded the United States as it developed and as it is today.

Their system was openly and explicitly racist, not only disenfranchising and enslaving black people, a large part of the population, but in reducing them to a fractional part of a human being, even that fractional part not counted towards their own interest but that of the men who enslaved them and robbed them of all of their rights as human beings.  It, in fact if not explicitly in words, also reduced and stole the personhood of women, other minority groups and even a portion of the humanity of unpropertied though nominally free white men without means and who were disenfranchised in some of those "several states".

The founders, to put it in the vulgar vernacular, screwed us, intentionally, explicitly and to their own benefit.  That was the purpose of setting up the Constitutional Convention in response to rebellions by Revolutionary War veterans who went home and found they were screwed by the very class which had fomented that war for their own benefit, any promises made to them reneged on by those very same founders whose empty words in the Declaration were, as well forgotten.  I will point out, in passing that when Jefferson, et al, tried to come to an explanation of their rights and where those come from, they had no other recourse but to admit that those were an equal endowment of all people from God, or, in their late 18th century style, their Creator.  I'm sure if they had been able to locate the origin of those rights any other way, being men of their time, they'd have made that argument, one which is still unable to be made in an effective and coherent way under the regime of scientific thinking two and a quarter centuries and counting, later.

I am tired of the argument about the "founders" as if their system was so great when it took the abolitionist movement, the horrible, bloody Civil War, the woman's rights movements, movements for the rights of the Native Americans who were terrorized, murdered and robbed by those Founders and their followers, and movements to extend the vote to even poor white men, and myriad other reform movements of the 18th, 19th, 20th and 21st centuries to make their crappy constitution tolerable, having, to fight and shed blood against it and the entrenched oligarchic interests who have used the "founders" creation to thwart equality, justice and to impose the preferential option for the rich embedded in that system.

Every single one of those movements, including the woman's movement, including the LGBT rights movement, certainly the abolitionist and civil rights movements were peopled by religious believers, most of them Christians and in large part motivated by the religion of those involved,for  the large majority of them, Christianity.

Whatever we enjoy as an egalitarian and just society is largely thanks to the efforts of Christians and Jews and, these days, Muslims, Buddhists and others in persuading other Americans that it was a moral obligation to do justice to other people, the backlash against that has far more depended on a mythical originalist interpretation of the damned Constitution and the most thoroughly corrupt and undemocratic branch of government, the Supreme Court, to thwart and overturn any progress that has been made.  And they rely on the Constitution to do that, not religion.  The ones most identified as the "Christians" on the Supreme Court just made it legal for states to murder people using excruciating pain in the process.  That's something they found their warrant for in the Constitution, not in the words of Jesus or his apostles.

If I had to choose to live under the words of Madison, Mason, Adams, Jefferson and Washington or to live under the words of Jesus, I'd never hesitate but to choose the later.   It would produce egalitarian democracy and, in accordance with the economic laws of Moses, a radically level and economically just society.  As to the often misrepresented mentions of slavery by Paul,  slave owners were to treat those they legally held in slavery, not as slaves but as equals, as if they were members of their own families.   Under the teachings of Jesus, slavery as the Founders practiced and supported and embedded in their Constitution could not have been maintained.

The real founders of any America which we find even barely tolerable, today, weren't 18th century aristocrats, they were the people who forced changes in the Constitutional system and the laws made in accordance with that Constitution.  Those are founders of America as it's worth keeping, as we will discover if the "originalists" regime really gets its way.   It is no shocking realization that among the greatest supporters of that originalist myth are the pseudo-Christians, the very incarnation of the Antichrist in our midst, who have a pantomime Jesus as its central figure, a phony idol which never lived and which has to disregard the gospels, the Law and the apostolic tradition.

Insisting on Having It Both Ways Isn't A Rational Position It Depends On Lying And Bullying

It might have been lost in the great debate over the smart mop-head and Gordon Lightfoot's status as a song writer but the man who has been vilifying me as an anti-Semite with Duncan Black sponsoring his lies for the past several years didn't address my post about that yesterday.   As Noam Chomsky noted in that video clip about the tactics of Alan Dershowitz, he knows he can't argue with his opponents so he lies, makes false accusations and side tracks the discussion with false and irrelevant charges about his opponents like any cheap lawyer who doesn't have a case.  Congratulations, Simels, that's as close to the thinking of a famous law professor at an over-rated university as you're ever going to get.

So, let's get this straight.   My pointing out that Israel is a dangerous place for Jews to live, which has been on a permanent wartime footing since its creation, which is surrounded by hostile states and the object of terrorist attacks as well as military operations pretty much the whole time and wishing a less dangerous and deadly option had been taken, that's anti-Semitism.

On the other hand, people such as Alan Dershowitz, the neo-cons, the Israel lobby, pointing out that  Israel is a dangerous place for Jews to live, which has been on a permanent wartime footing since its creation, which is surrounded by hostile states and the object of terrorist attacks as well as military operations pretty much the whole time is not only not anti-Semtism but the very basis of support for Israel and the demand that the United States government send it enormous amounts of aid, military and other and have a blanket policy of backing every decision made by the Israeli government, its intelligence services, its military, that's just swell and OK.

Talk about wanting to have it both ways, up and down and every other way imaginable.   But let me break this to you.  Other than your bullying and lying and intimidation, you've got nothing to support your insistence that people ignore reality.  And there are people who won't be bullied, won't tolerate being lied about and won't care about the intimidation and the name-calling.  A rational discussion of the United States relationship with Israel and the Palestinians has been stopped, cold by that tactic and the only ones who have benefited are the fascists in Israel such as Netanyahu and the worst of Arab politicians and despots and the fundamentalists who have used the situation for their benefit.  Oh, and, of course, the neo-cons here, most of all the arms industry and brokers, they've benefited enormously by those intimidation tactics.

Update:  Simels, when you try to post a comment which is on topic and not filled with the same lies you've been spouting for the past three years on Duncan Black's blog I will post it and answer it.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Ruth Anderson - SUM (State of the Union Message)


1973

This is one of most fun pieces of sound collage I know of.  From the CRI album of music by Lesbian American Composers.

Update:

Vladimir Ussachevsky Sonic Contours 1952


The piece was created in Arturo Toscannini's personal recording studio, in collaboration with his personal technician, David Sarser aiding Ussachevsky.


I love those early electronic pieces, makes me nostalgic for when I had a job at a really primitive patch cord and tape deck music studio when I was in college. But not that far back.   None of my pieces I made then survive, which is probably just as well.  One sampled Washboard Sam from an old recording.  I wanted some more sound so I stole the door off a locker and rubbed a stick against the ventilation slits to try to get the same rhythm with a different sound.  Didn't work the way I'd planned it,  I didn't know that Washboard Sam had fitted his board with a wheel with a sort of reed on it that made his unique signature sound.

Haven't done any more with the medium but I did learn how to edit reel to reel tape with a demagnetized razor blade and paper tape.  Which was also good for inserting silence into a piece, really useful if you had to add a few seconds here and there to meet the time requirement for an assignment.   I did one that I called Zebra 36.  No idea what happened to those tapes.  I don't have anything to play them on, anyway.  I wasn't big on the synthesizer when they introduced it.  An Arp, as I recall.  It sounded awful.  All the students pieces on it sounded like music to introduce the 6 O'clock news.

Got to watch out, nostalgia is a trap.

Simels Is Just Dershing Around

Well, since the challenge Simels first made to me was comparing "Edmund Fitzgerald" to "Day In The Life" I'm going to deal with that and not his switching his argument to Revolver after my first answer to him.

And Sims, stop with the Dershing, what I'm going to from now on call the kind of subject changing that is one of the tactics you've got in common with Alan Dershowitz.

I am not surprised someone as superficial and soft-handed as Simels would think a song about a drug addled millionaire buddy of the mop heads killing himself in a car crash intercut with a bit about a drugged up desk worker who's late for work is deeper than a song about 29 men who did a dangerous, hard, dirty job dying when the ore ship they were on went down in a storm.

I suppose it's all of the mild aleatoric stuff copy-cat that was taken by people who didn't listen to the contemporary avant garde as being so innovative, which isn't song writing as such.  Only, you see, I'd already heard the kind of technique they were only copying. And, compared to the real thing the mop head's modernism was kind of bland,  For example Iannis Xenakis' pithoprakta from about 11 years earlier.


Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra
Lukas Foss, director

Or Gyorgy Ligeti's very famous piece and quite beautiful Atmosphères from about six years earlier.

The Virginia Governor's School for the Arts Orchestra with the East Carolina University Orchestra
Stephen Coxe, director

Or any number of other pieces that used moving sound masses well before the mop heads blew the minds of kiddies who had never heard it before.   I will grant them this, they did give some excellent London based orchestral musicians a day's work and I've heard the refreshments were good.

Their other dabblings in avant guarde techniques were quite silly,  Revolution #9's musique concrète was old hat by the time they used it.  And so ham handed and unimpressive as compared to the real thing.   Steve Reich, working at about the same time had already produced his haunting "Come Out To Show Them" in 1966.


The hair on my arms and the back of my neck still rises when I hear it almost fifty years later.

But getting back to the comparison, I'll point out that both the pretty and the, um, "smart" mophead wrote it.  Almost everything with Lennon's name on it that people remember was co-written with McCartney.  I don't think it's a valid comparison with a song written by one person, though I think "Edmund Fitzgerald" is a better song.

I would guess that if you asked a random sample of people who were familiar with both songs that more would say that "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" stuck with them more and meant more to them, especially people who did real work for a living, though I'm sure that the scribbling class who have never done anything more risky than having lunch with the wrong person might not find it as compelling.  That entire album that your choice ends sounds more like bubble gum pop to me more than some great artistic achievement the older I get.  And I've heard the thing often enough so that I could sing every single song on the thing,  I could probably write out the music to lots of it from memory.  That's the the test of time, Sims.  I've already told you that I liked Carla Bley's response to it a lot better,  it was way more innovative.

Though I've enjoyed this little exercise, I haven't listened to some of the pieces I've reviewed for years.  The Ligeti and Reich, especially.  I'm sorry I couldn't post some of the others as they aren't available online.   I've enjoyed listening to Gordon Lightfoot again, after many years, as well.  Listen to the stories.


Can't Believe I Found The Old Notebook I Wrote This In

Giving Up The Business 

How in a dusty theater office, the day after the concert, 
old, worn, dirty, devoted to the shoestring, 
holding on by nails kind of business done in a back water town, 
low, afternoon sun coming through the dirty windows, 
us discussing fees over coffee with whisky in it, 
I suddenly saw in your manager's face what it once meant,
what it still does to you, along with it just being a job.
Me too, playing music that's OK, not what I'd planned on
The lines, the grey hair, the traces of cigarettes and drink,
Too many disappointments, those you've felt,
Even more the ones you had to break to players, like me.

Seventeen years, you told me once, you've been at it.
You almost look as much a part of the place as the chipped varnish,
The scratches that won't ever get fixed, the dust backstage.  
Too wise to buy the lies of the spotlight, the flash on the props, 
Sadder for that but to me a sudden knowing of the dull sadness that turns to a habit 
Too comfortable to risk falling into.  
But your tired smile shows what might point beyond it.

c. 1987
Gordon Lightfoot, I happened to hear "If You Could Read My Mind" on The Vinyl Cafe yesterday and it got me to remembering his other songs, "Edmund Fitzgerald" "Carefree Highway" etc.  Now, he's a better songwriter than Lennon was.  Miles better.  Great voice, too.  And, unlike Lennon, I hear the musicians he works with really like him.  

Update:  Like Charlie Parker said when they asked him why he kept playing country western songs, one after another on the juke box, "Listen to the stories."  

Update 2:  Well, you see, "Edmund Fitzgerald" was written by Gordon Lightfoot about the lives of other people, not himself.  I wouldn't expect it to resonate with a black hole of ego. 

Update 3:  Having read real surrealism, drug based and otherwise, John Lennon's is a pale imitation of it.   I'd rather have Lightfoot's realism, rough edges and all.  

If you hadn't guessed, Simels' is issuing comments I'm chosing not to post, as of now.  He hasn't addressed his blatant lying about me at Duncan Black's dying blog. 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Hate Mail - Simels Is Calling Me An Anti-Semite on Duncan Black's Blog Again Today

Anyone who isn't aware of why I bother with Steve Simels, it is because he has, for years, been calling me an anti-Semite on Duncan Black's Eschaton blog, from which Duncan Black banned me so I can't refute the lie where it lies.  NOT that I'd want to go back there for any other purpose.

For anyone who might be curious as to what I said that he twisted into a charge of anti-Semitism, here is a link to my original post on it, again.

The use of a charge of anti-semitism has, in the hands of such people as Alan Dershowitz, the neo-cons, the Israel lobby and such insignificant figures as Simels, has become absurd.  Its absurdity is such that many of those who the charge has been made against are Jews such as Noam Chomsky, Norman Finklestein, Tony Kushner, Howard Zinn, Tony Judt and Adrienne Rich  and any one who is at all critical of the actions of the Israeli state and military, including some Israelis.   It's not my business to protect the integrity of the accusation but I know it can't be used as it has been for the past several decades and retain its credibility when actually needed.

What I said is that I regretted that either Jews hadn't been admitted into the United States as citizens during the period when there were legal quotas restricting their immigration instead of left to die in Europe,  or that the United States MY OWN COUNTRY, hadn't donated land so a Jewish homeland could be placed on North America, where the liklihood of it being in a constant state of war, with all of the deaths, all of the waste of resources on the military, all of the enablement of fascist politicians  for the last six decades and counting was far less likely.  Really, wishing your country would give up territory for the establishment of a secure Jewish Homeland is anti-Semitism.  Imagine that as the definition of anti-Semitism.  If that's anti-Semitism, what is wanting Israel to be a sitting duck and in a constant state of war and under threat of attack?   Israel has been in a state  of war since its creation and that is unlikely to change any time in the foreseeable future.  I regretted that a Jewish homeland couldn't have been established under conditions where it was more likely to be at peace or that Jews hadn't been allowed to become citizens of the United States, such as Steve Simels and almost everyone who has been libeling liberals as anti-Semites have been for their entire lives.

The dishonest use of the term by such liars has taken an important word and weakened it into a meaningless epithet to be flung around whenever someone of low character, such as the above, wants to use it.  Duncan Black obviously doesn't care that his blog is used by people like Steve Simels for that purpose, even as he also sponsors many, actual, way over the line anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish comments, including those made by one of Simels' friends as documented at the link above.

I don't think people who are  lied about are under any obligation to ignore it, so I don't.   Lying has become endemic in the age when bloggers figure the court ruling exempting them from responsibility for lies defaming people, libeling people etc. relived them of any responsibility for what they post and their commentators, as well, figure they can lie with impunity.  I don't think anything like a decent society can tolerate that situation, democracy certainly can't be sustained on a regime of lying.  If that's the rule for the alleged leftist blogosphere, it may as well be FOX "news" and hate talk radio.   As it is, I've been told that that ruling only applies to bloggers who don't moderate comments.  That category, I'm also told, likely doesn't cover Black's blog because he bans people, such as myself, from answering the lies his regular commentators post there.   I'm no lawyer, just someone who is lied about, at least several times most weeks for years, on Duncan Black's blog.  I don't know how far I'm willing to go to stop it but I'm not going to let it continue without pointing out the people who are lying about me, directly and indirectly.

Update:  First, I'm not "bringing down Eschaton", Duncan Black did that when he gave up actually writing content for it and he stopped doing that years ago. Eschaton was significant, to some extent, before 2008, since then, not much at all.

Second, I really do think that Dershowitz and Simels are using the same tactic. Of course, I'm not especially significant and Dershowitz, unlike Simels, has some intellectual resources so it's a question of kind and not of magnitude.   Being a daily reader of The Boston Globe and, especially, of anything by or concerning Howard Zinn (he was on the same Democracy Now program and another person targeted by Dershowitz) and Noam Chomsky, two of my favorite intellectuals and with whom I have had some major disagreements.  I remember the second incident that Chomsky talks about here, quite well.


I'll point out that I wasn't even critical of Israel in my comments, all I did was point out that it was a dangerous place for Jews to live.